Little Priscilla ate whatever she wanted. She did not care for vegetables and she didn’t care much for sandwiches. When she was hungry she would ask for macaroni and cheese or crackers or her favorite fruit of the week. A doctor had suggested to her parents that they should just put food in front of Priscilla and just let her eat just what she felt like eating and no more. Not having had much training in nutrition, they gave her what she wanted.This meant that for the most part, she was picking her diet. They rationalized that they gave her vitamins so she would be okay.
Pros and Cons
Is there anything wrong with this? There is one good thing about it. Never making Priscilla eat too much will help prevent her from gaining too much weight. You can tell me that the situation just doesn’t seem right. How will she learn to eat new foods? Will she get enough protein, minerals, fats or other needed nutrients. Will there come a time when she doesn’t take vitamins and therefore her body isn’t able to get what it needs from food? What about the undiscovered vitamins and other nutrients that are being found but are not supplemented in vitamin pills?
I am not a perfect parent and I am sure that I forced my children to eat at times. Despite that, they rarely overate. There seems to be something in a child’s metabolism that triggers them to lose interest in food when they have had enough calories. That is exactly why we can’t let them eat or drink too many empty calories (food with calories but little nutrition).
There is wave of obesity that frightens parents. My experience has been that if child has one and a half to two hours active play (or work) a day, he or she will not become overweight. There is also an emotional side to weight gain. Children need attention, love, friendship, a positive self concept, and to feel accepted and valued. If they are lacking in any of these areas, they may fill the void with food. We need to be watchful of symptoms of unfulfilled needs. Don’t allow a child to sit around watching TV or playing video games and snacking instead of playing with friends or going outside.
So how should you handle how children eat? Try a few tips that many have learned.
- When he or she is hungry, he or she may learn to like new foods. Introduce a new food when she is hungry and ask her to try it before eating other foods.
- USDA recommendations for nutrition are that we eat 2 fruits, 2 vegetables, 2 servings of protein, 4-6 servings of grain, and 4 servings of dairy for young children. Serving size can be small like 2 tablespoons or 1/2 cup for young children.
- Place a plate of a variety of foods in front of your child and ask them to try each. Do not demand that they clear their plate.
- Children have small stomachs so they need snacks every 2 hours depending on age. Make snacks nutritional and don’t allow sugary snacks or empty calories within an hour before meals.
- Dessert is not necessary unless a child in very hungry. It can be used as a bride to get a child to try something new.
There are some videos that can help parents and children. A game on nutrition; https://www.youtube.com/watch?T3EP4NEpI
Choose my Plate videos www.choosemyplate.gov/videos
Kids video on junk food fhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE8lezHs19s